Before we start, this is not an April Fools' joke. When I was younger in the UK, directory assistance calls were free (they were considered to be "part of the service"). Thus, I must admit to being a bit cheesed off when I have to pay $1.00 or more for a 411 call on my cell phone.
Thus, I was rather interested to see an email from a friend saying that anyone can place a directory assistance call by dialing 1-800-FREE-411 or 1 800 373 3411 without incurring a charge (this works on both cell phones and land lines).
Hmmm, "Is someone pulling my plonker?" I thought, but no – this seems to be legitimate. This has been verified as TRUE on Snopes.com. See: www.snopes.com/inboxer/nothing/free411.asp.
The way this works is that if you ask for the number of a business (as opposed to a residential listing) – and if there's a competing business in the same area that's acting as a sponsor for FREE-411 – then you are presented with a short advert and given the choice as to whether to be connected to your original choice or to the sponsoring alternative.
I just tried calling FREE-411 on my office phone, and was presented with a short advert for a local attorney. I can live with that, because I can probably save myself $50 or more a year using this service – I'm going to add this number to my cell phone directory immediately.
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.